Ludlow’s Food Festival is a big event
By Mary Charlebois
It’s early morning, at 7 AM. Small trucks and vans are parked around the market square in Ludlow Shropshire England.
Ludlow’s deep pride and heritage comes through the food and drink that’s been produced here for centuries. When you visit Shropshire England, take part in the grand abandon with which Ludlow showcases locally produced fare.
Baskets of fruit and veggies, flats of eggs, coolers of poultry, beef, lamb, and pork are carried to tables and display cases. Dairy from cows, sheep, and goats are arranged with handwritten signs. Banners are strung, naming the farm and farmer. Many show gold ribbons, best-of-show, national champion, and other honors.
Around the market square, in the shadow of the castle, small shops are preparing window displays for the day. The air is filled with the aroma of breakfast meats cooking and bread baking from cafes and bakeries.
As the market fills with food and drink produced in the region, one enterprising woman has hot tea and sweet buns ready. Her trade is brisk.
Foodie Center of England
Enjoy wine, beer, cider, spirits, beef, pork, lamb, poultry, cheese, fruit, and veg. This black and white half-timbered market town is alive with butchers, bakers, greengrocers, and cheesemongers.
In Ludlow, they occupy small shops and town square market stalls. Pubs, cafes, and restaurants share the market square with producers and purveyors. All are happy to tell you about their food, farms, and history. Ludlow is where you come to eat, fill your larder, and talk about food and cooking.
The Oldest Food Festival in England
In September each year, the UK’s oldest food and drink festival are celebrated for three days on the Ludlow Castle grounds. Over 180 food and drink producers from Shropshire and the Welsh Marches come together to offer tastings, talks, demonstrations, and to sell their produce.
Over 100-hours of talks and workshops for Slow Food, coffee, baking, BBQ, homebrewing and more draw hundreds of foodies. Kids cooking classes fill up quickly.
Ludlow Brewery is wide open for tours and tastings. Food trails around Ludlow include sausage, ale, and pudding (desserts). New ‘tasting trails’ of Ludlow’s independent shops are added each year. website
Ludlow Spring Festival
“Like a beer festival but better, with beer, bangers, bread & classic cars.”
For three days in May, bangers (sausages) and beer are kings. Add other eats, libations, music, and classic cars and you have a great way to welcome spring. Hire a convertible and join the fun. website
Magnalonga is a different kind of day out. The Magnalonga is a food and drinks walk, 8-10 miles long. It starts and finishes just outside Ludlow at the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre. Along the way, you’re offered food and drink from local producers to fortify you for the trek. website
Ludlow Farmshop (formerly Ludlow Food Center)
How many communities have a park dedicated to local food production? Outside Ludlow, a park-like setting offers retail, eateries, picnicking and tours illuminating agriculture of the region.
The Farmshop is a large market selling locally produced foods, fresh and prepared, all under the roof of a market hall.
Tastings and demonstrations are plentiful, helping you make a decision on exactly which cider to choose and what cheese goes best with your lunch.
Next door, for their seasonal menu, the Ludlow Kitchen Cafe gets its ingredients from the Farmshop. Everything is produced in Shropshire. Stop in for a taste of what’s being harvested around Ludlow. website
Eat and Sleep at Fishmore Hall
For fine dining, book a table at award-winning, Fishmore Hall’s Forelle Restaurant just outside Ludlow.
The 9-course tasting menu can be paired with wine. Traditional Sunday Roast Dinner and afternoon tea is a special treat at Fishmor Hall. The cuisine served are works of art for the eye and tongue. All ingredients are sourced no more than 30-miles from the hotel.
Fishmore Hall has 15 rooms and suites. The full-service spa on the property can be booked for a variety of services. The countryside is made for walking and photo jaunts. website
Either by train or auto, Ludlow is 3.5—4-hours from London. Driving in this region can be challenging without GPS. Trains and buses are a good bet, with regular service to Ludlow’s outlying towns and villages.
The magnificent Shropshire Hills are enough reason to visit this part of England. Sharing the area’s passion for food and drink will bring you back again and again.
For more information about Ludlow – Visit Shropshire Hills
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Mary Charlebois is a freelance journalist and photographer. Her home base is on California’s Mendocino Coast. She travels by train, plane, bus, boat, shoe sole, and auto. She digs into the culture, people, and history wherever she goes and isn’t opposed to a little adventure along the way.